Why Handwork?

“The hands of man express his thought, and from the time of his first appearance upon the earth traces of his handiwork also appear in the records of history.” –Dr. Maria Montessori

As a student, I had embroidery and crochet as part of my grade 9 curriculum. I had never, prior to that worked with yarn and needle. Unfortunately, my sweaty palms and speeding thoughts, made me one of the select few in class who were exempted from what seemed like torturous hours. I was glad. I had no value for what I was being taught. My sole focus lay on my academic journey, my tests and my marks!

It is years later, when I first decided to become a teacher, that I chose to enter a Waldorf school. And, I remember what struck me the most. I saw 6 and 7 year old children sitting on chowkis, very mindfully knitting small little cats. I saw 9 year old children making crochet caps and I saw 10 year old using 5 knitting needles to make socks! I was impressed beyond measure! Wow!”, I wondered “Can education really be this expansive? Can it encompass all these forms or art and craft that have been labelled as ways to while away time. Can our focus shift from marks and achievements, an education solely meant for the development of the mind, to a form of education that honours also the emotional, vital and spiritual side of man? “

As I delved deeper, I realised how valuable these skills are and how wonderful it would be if these skills, now solely relegated to alternative schools, seeped into mainstream curriculum? Imagine our children knitting, and crocheting instead of watching TV? And that too voluntarily, without being compelled by an adult! Would that not be truly heartening to see?

In this blog I share some reasons as to why we at Golden Butterfly have many courses around handwork and why these skills can become a valuable part of curriculums across schools and Boards in India:

1) Improves Fine Motor Skills:
Finger knitting, Knitting, Crochet, Embroidery, Weaving are all forms of handwork that improve fine-motor skills. Fine-motor skills are essential for developing a fine grip over the pencil, which in turn impacts their writing ability.

2) Improves hand-eye coordination:
Hand-eye coordination represents the use of hands and eye together to perform various activities. It is essential for reading, playing sports and most of the activities we carry out through the day. Any form of handwork strengthens hand-eye coordination.

3) Induces a state of calm:
Many children who are often labelled as hyperactive, seem to quieten during their handwork classes. The repetitive and rhythmic movements make them calmer and often bring them into state of balance.

4) Teaches perseverance and the art of letting go:
Handwork projects take time to complete which in turn teaches children patience and perseverance. Often as beginners, mistakes are made which leads to unravelling their work and beginning again. It subtly teaches them not to get attached to their work and learning to let go.

5) Encourages reliance on handmade items:
As children learn handwork, they begin to appreciate and value things which are made with the hand. They often start making handmade gifts for their friends, deepening their connections and reducing the reliance on store-bought impersonal gifts!

6) Encourages agility and quick thinking:
As children do handwork, they quickly learn how to identify different stitches, spot mistakes, count stitches (however tiny they might be!), understand patterns, decode patterns by just seeing the finished-items, innovate and experiment with their skills. This creates agile and quick thinkers!

Apart from the few benefits of handwork I mention above, it also plays a role in cultivating a taste for beauty, promoting refinement in senses and a conscious, slow yet vibrant way of life.

I share with you, in conclusion, a finger-knitting tutorial! (It can be tried out by a grown-up or a child!)

2 Replies to “Why handwork?”

  1. Beautifully explained and yes,the art of stitching,knitting,crocheting is severely overlooked. The sense of comfort and achievement is unbelievable and the finished product gives fulfillment. Enjoyed reading. Thanks.

  2. Very well worded Urvi. All this education is so experiential that it stays forever. As and when the need arises the skill is brought on the surface or called upon and the individual can get through the situation. Many of the handwork techniques later become life skills. The subtle changes take place within help experience the contentment or satisfaction, that may not be tangible but makes life richer.

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